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infinitejoe

Infinite Joe

I like challenging books that make you think, and leave you happy that you did. Typically, I find character driven literary fiction the most satisfying, although I in no way think of myself as a serious literary critic.

Currently reading

Unaccustomed Earth
Jhumpa Lahiri
Progress: 282/333 pages

How to Be Alone: Essays

How to Be Alone - Jonathan Franzen Aside from essays involving Alzheimer's disease, cigarettes, and the fall of the Chicago Post Office, the bulk of the other essays centered on reading and/or writing (especially literary fiction), and about his own, personal, inner conflicts, both of those coming into play together at times. For example, it's fairly easy to see that Franzen laments the fact that there are so few readers of literary fiction out there, and yet he takes immense pride in being one who writes in the genre. If his books ever became as popular as Grisham's or King's or any other popular, contemporary author, I can picture him throwing himself against the walls of his apartment, pulling his hair out, and raging that people aren't really "getting" him.

The essays included in this collection are erudite and well written, and the personal ones tragically self-aware. I enjoyed all of them. However, I remember liking his essays in Farther Away better, and liking David Foster Wallace's essay collections better than either of Franzen's. So that's why I gave it 3 stars.

P.S. My favorite essays in this one were, in order, "Meet Me In St. Louis" (about his disinvitation from Oprah's book club, and his return to his old neighborhood), "Inauguration Day, January 2001" (highlights inner conflict), and "Lost in the Mail" (about the fall of the Chicago Post Office).